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All The Things Movies Get Completely Wrong About Guns

Updated May 31, 2017 219.9k views15 items

Who doesn't love a good action movie? From John Woo to the Wachowskis, Hollywood has delivered some of the best gun violence the world has ever seen. But gun inaccuracies in movies are actually super common. So, what are all the ways movies get guns wrong? There are numerous problems with gun battles across hundreds of movies, but most of us don't really think about them because we don't know how guns work in real life.

Well, get ready to be educated. Every trope and cliché that action movies use is based on common misunderstandings regarding proper gun usage. We're going to explore everything from what a bullet does to you upon impact to the proper way to hold a gun, so prepare to know just how wrong your favorite movie characters have been treating deadly weapons. 

  • Guns Don't Just Go Off When You Drop Them

    Video: YouTube

    Bet you've heard this one before: the hero is cornered by the bad guys, they hold her up and tell her to drop all her weapons. Because the hero is so clever, however, she deliberately drops her gun and it goes off, taking out a bad guy and giving our hero the distraction she needs to escape.

    The thing is, that would never happen. Guns over the past few decades, with the exception of some longer rifles, are built well enough to safety standards that dropping them doesn't make them go off. That's obviously one of the big things manufacturers want to prevent. Now, 100 years ago a dropped gun might have gone off, but nowadays that never happens.

  • Getting Shot In The Shoulder Isn't Something You Can Shrug Off

    Video: YouTube

    Often in movies, in order to artificially increase the stakes, we'll see the main character take a bullet. The filmmakers, smart as they are, usually keep it to the shoulder, so the character is injured but still able to function.

    Well, the problem with that is that getting shot in the shoulder would be completely debilitating. Sure, there's plenty of soft tissue to harm, but if a joint, artery, or nerve gets hit you're in a lot of trouble. You may lose the blood supply to your arm, or not be able to support yourself because your collar bone is shattered. In short, you're not going to be doing any gun fu in the near future. 

  • A Gunshot Cannot Knock You Back

    Video: YouTube

    You see this trope in practically every action movie that comes out. There's a big gunfight, someone gets hit, and they go flying backwards through the air. That, of course, doesn't happen. Ever.

    Bullets are very small, and the whole reason they do so much damage is because there's a lot of force going into a focused area. If it had enough energy to send you flying back, it would be way more likely the bullet would just pass right through you.

  • Gunfights Don't Last Very Long

    Video: YouTube

    According to the FBI, gunfights aren't nearly as drawn out as they look in the movies. So, every long shootout you've seen is probably a lie in one way or another. The true length of a gunfight is less three minutes and more three seconds.

    In fact, the general rule is that gunfights occur in three seconds, over three shots, at three yards apart. So, chances are you're almost never going to reload during a fight.